- Four residents of Uniontown, AL are fighting a $30 million defamation lawsuit from Georgia-based Green Group Holdings over their opposition to the company's coal ash landfill.
- Residents of the tiny town — population less than 2,000 — have been fighting the company's 1,200-acre Arrowhead landfill for years. They say the site's placement and health effects are a racial injustice in a town that is more than 90% black.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a motion in federal court to dismiss the case. A judge is expected to decide whether to rule on the written motions or let the issue go to court within the next month.
The landfill opened in 2007 and residents have been fighting it since at least 2009. After another site in Tennessee experienced a major dam collapse, polluting the surrounding area with arsenic and lead, the remaining 4 million tons of material were shipped by rail to Uniontown. Residents have since filed a formal complaint with the EPA and questioned the state's decision to approve an expansion in 2012.
Similar complaints have come up in Alabama before. Last year, a lawsuit was filed in Tallassee over an "unreasonable delay" in the EPA's investigation into a local landfill. Residents of Dothan have also filed a civil rights complaint to the EPA over the state's decision to approve a landfill expansion.
It's unclear how the Uniontown situation will play out. Green Group Holdings declined to comment for the Guardian's story, though their website touts the Arrowhead site's record of zero violations since opening. The Uniontown residents being sued say they're not worried about the staggering $30 million figure and couldn't pay it anyway. Their attorney says she's ready to go to court if need be.
"The residents are making statements of opinion, statements of emotion and passion which can’t be penalized consistent with the first amendment," ACLU senior attorney Lee Rowland told the Guardian. "Green Group is using lawsuits to silence their critics."